Lately I’ve been trying to walk more and also to be more intentional about setting aside my ‘go, go, go’ North American mindset and settle into the ‘mora, mora’ mindset here in Madagascar. Things go slower here and it gets a bit frustrating when I have to choose between walking painfully slowly behind someone or walking around them on the road, risking being hit by a bus, motor scooter, or bike. To start slowing down I’ve been trying to embrace these slow walkers by setting my pace to them. Today one such person made my day.
As I left my work sight today I latched onto a stick of a woman clad. She was wearing a light blue top and a white pencil-type skirt, neither of which fit well but both were imaculately clean. After living here for 7 months all of the white things I own have turned a dingy gray color so for my walk home I spent a considerable amount of time staring in awe at the brilliance of this whiet skirt as I followed the path trod by her green foam flip-flop sliders. I was a bit in tranced by her to be honest. The thing that truly grabbed me was a short time into our walk we came upon a bus parked on the side of the street. The street was fairly busy with a few breaks in traffic so she decided to go on around it. I diligently followed my trailblazer. It just so happened that another bus was coming- and not slowly. She broke into a bit of a jog as she rounded the front of the bus. I anxiously followed her example as by then she was out of the way of becoming roadkill. As I felt the bus whoosh past us the woman did something I didn’t expect. She turned and smiled at me and said ‘that was a close one’. Ok no she didn’t. But her eyes did. We were suddenly accomplices in a dangerous endeavor- braving Malagasy roadsides. We continued our walk much as we had before our near brush with death. Further down the road we crossed a bridge where I know a group of guys hang out and it didn’t surprise me at all that one of them greeted me with a ‘bonjour, cherie’. Ugh. This woman again turned to me with a smile. I felt like we were unified in a way that didn’t need words. She was a friend to me for that brief walk and never spoke a word. Every time she turned her head enough that I could see her face I could see she was smiling. It’s amazing how simple things can make someone’s day. So today I challenge you to do just that. Look at people. Look them in the eye and recognize them as not just another body in the hustle and bustle of everyday life but as companions in humanity. And most importantly- smile because you might just be the ray of sunshine someone needs today.